© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
A crew of four divers from Marenco Engineering load a fishing boat with gear as Maritime Electric begins preliminary work looking at options for routes a new underwater power cable could take.
With Maritime Electric doing preliminary work on a new power cable to the mainland, Energy Minister Wes Sheridan says discussions are ongoing with the federal government over funding.
Sheridan said the province is looking for the federal government to pay a share of the costs and it has come to the point that tough decisions need to be made.
He also said it will take time to finish different parts of the project, such as ordering the cable.
“That gives us a little bit of time to hammer down the deal but it would certainly be nice to have all of those decisions made very quickly and soon with the federal government so we can do it in good order.”
On Monday, divers started preliminary work in the Northumberland Strait to measure the bedrock depth ahead of a survey team in June.
Maritime Electric expects that growing demand for electricity will require a new cable to be in place for 2016.
P.E.I. is served by two cables to the mainland that were installed in 1977.
Sheridan said he hopes to have a funding agreement in place in time, but if there isn’t one by the end of the summer a tough decision will have to be made.
“This is very important to us.”
Opposition Leader Steven Myers said it’s clear Maritime Electric is leading the charge on the new cable because when the provincial government had federal infrastructure funding it spent it on other projects.
“They never made it a priority and it’s never been a priority of this government.”
Sheridan said the cable has been at the top of the province’s list of infrastructure priorities for the last three years.
“We’re looking at the best way that we can all make this work out for all Islanders and rate payers for Maritime Electric at the same time so it’s important that we get this right.”
But Myers said if the third cable was a priority for the provincial government then it would be in place already.
“Why don’t we have it yet?”